Triumphant Sufficiency

The Israelites felt triumphant when God led them out of Egypt. Finally, after four hundred years of slavery, they were returning to their ancestral homeland.

The ten plagues demonstrated that God was on their side. They were following his physical presence in the pillar of cloud and fire. The Egyptian plunder they carried evidenced his blessing. They were armed for battle.

They were self-sufficient.

However, when the Israelites saw the Egyptian army bearing down on them at the Red Sea, their self-sufficiency vanished, and their triumphant feelings evaporated.

Even though God had forewarned them about Pharaoh’s pursuit and previewed his intention to save them, the Israelites panicked, got mad at God, and doubted his plans.

They had expected God to make their lives easier after they left Egypt, but he was not meeting their expectations.

It is hard to fault the Israelites for feeling this way.

Until recently, they had seen little evidence of God working on their behalf during the previous four centuries. They may have experienced false hope before and had many reasons to believe that God was about to let them down again, despite his specific assurance to the contrary.

Walking through the Red Sea on dry land between two walls of water, the Israelites saw the magnitude of their insufficiency relative to God’s might. They learned anew he was the real reason for their success.

We are like the Israelites.

When life is going well, we are prone to feelings of triumph and self-sufficiency. But when life gets tough, we become fearful, angry, and disappointed with God—despite ample evidence of his trustworthiness—because he is no longer living up to our expectations.

We always want God to rescue us sooner than later and quickly make life easy. He may choose this option, but he may prefer to use our misfortune to lessen our self-sufficiency, teach us new things about his excellence, and deepen our relationship with him.